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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Roche says 'bull's-eye on me'



Debate by the Pinellas County Commission on Norm Roche's bid to hire an aide for his seat on the board was delayed Tuesday without the group reaching a consensus on what to do. The members halted discussion to talk about the proposed tourist tax extension, but may return to the request later.

Roche, while saying he wasn't offended by some fellow commissioners' opposition, said he's being targeted. He didn't name names.

"I'm coming in with a bull's-eye on me," Roche said of his election. "There are folks who are not happy about it."

He added, "There are some people who can't wait for this to happen -- to see if we step on it."

Roche also accused the Times of not covering the election, saying he has said he believes the commission office is run efficiently with low overhead. (Roche didn't mention his more prevalent campaign statements, such as saying, "I believe very, very strongly that our county is in a mess and is in a ditch, and those that are at the helm of it are not necessarily the ones to get us out of it," at a forum in this Times story.)

Roche, who campaigned against county spending practices, wanted to hire an assistant, but the commission in June decided against filling a vacancy. The board had an aide for each commissioner before Roche unseated Calvin Harris. Ken Welch and Neil Brickfield so far support Roche's request for an aide. Karen Seel, Susan Latvala and John Morroni have opposed the hiring. Nancy Bostock offered alternatives on both sides, but discussion hadn't turned to her stance.

"I think all of you have to admit there is less work generated from our floor than any other department," Latvala said.

The commission has a $1.5 million budget for its office. Eliminating the aide position would save about $83,000 a year.



[Last modified: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 12:00pm]


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